The House Republican plan to replace Obamacare would reduce deficits by $119 billion over the next decade, but increase the number of Americans without health insurance by 23 million over the same period, according to a report released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The report, done with the Joint Committee on Taxation, also found that in states that receive a waiver from market regulations, the price for those who become ill or who have preexisting conditions could skyrocket to the point that they would ultimately be priced out of the market.
In short: Those that are healthy will still be able to buy health insurance with lower premiums, but those that are not will not. The report also found that while premiums would be about the same or lower for young people with lower income, premiums for older people with lower income would be “much larger than under current law” on average.
And the report cautioned that the narrower scope of benefits covered in many plans might cause “substantial” increases in out-of-pocket health care costs for everything from mental health care to maternity leave care to pediatric dental care.
The score was released 20 days after the House narrowly passed a bill that aimed to make sweeping changes to the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare. Since then, the Trump Administration has moved forward on a budget proposal that assumed the passage of the House bill.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, said the bill was “just the start,” and is needed to help stop skyrocketing costs caused by Obamacare.
“House Republicans and the Administration will continue to focus on additional steps we can take to restore the free market, increase choices and lower costs so that Americans can afford the plans they want and need,” he said.
By contrast, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said the GOP bill “takes away health care from 23 million Americans, reduces the deficit even less than the first version and gets there by throwing people with pre-existing conditions under the bus.
“This legislation is offensively bad, and will destroy the health care system Americans have come to rely on,” he said.
The House bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters Wednesday that he does not yet now how the Senate gets to 50 votes on the bill.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, earlier this month indicated that he doesn’t support the House bill as it stands “because I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population, especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse.” Emily Benavides, a Portman spokeswoman, said Portman had not shifted on that position since then. "We will review the new analysis as we work on a different approach here in the Senate," she said.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the House GOP bill “a bad deal.”
“The House bill will drive up costs, kick Ohioans off their insurance, and leave folks who have asthma or cancer unable to even purchase a plan,” he said. “Instead of moving forward with this bill, we need to work together to reduce costs and improve care for those we serve.”
Failing to repeal and replace Obamacare would be a political embarrassment for Republicans who made that promise a centerpiece of last year’s campaign. An earlier attempt to pass a bill to repeal and replace the 2010 law officially known as the Affordable Care Act failed to muster enough votes, and House leadership chose to pull the bill rather than see it fail on the floor.
The bill passed in May came after an earlier effort failed to muster the votes for passage. That GOP plan would’ve boosted the number of uninsured to 24 million by 2026 but would have cut the deficit by $150 billion, according to a CBO report on that plan.
The report released Wednesday found “average premiums for insurance purchased individually — that is, non-group insurance — would be lower, in part because the insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs. In addition … some people would use the tax credits authorized by the act to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks and that are not counted as insurance in this cost estimate.”
The largest savings resulted from cutbacks in Medicaid.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — extended health-care coverage by offering middle-class people federally subsidized insurance policies in the individual market, and by expanding eligibility for low-income people to be covered by Medicaid, a joint federal and state program which provides health care for the poor.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is tasked with determining the impact of bills. The current head of the office was selected by Republican lawmakers.
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